WENR, July 2013: Africa
New Africa-Brazil Higher Education Program
Brazil has launched a major higher education cooperation program with Portuguese-speaking Africa. Under the project, educators and researchers from 20 Brazilian institutions of higher education will provide services in five African nations: Angola, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe.
The Africa-Brazil higher education program was drafted at a meeting on “Education as a Strategic Bridge for the Brazil-Africa Relationship,” held in Bahia state’s Costa de Sauipe region of Brazil in May.
The program focuses on training teachers, curriculum development, educational management, digital education and professional education as well as on strengthening institutional capacity and assessing the performance of higher education institutions.
According to a report titled Brazil in Africa: Ambitions and achievements of an emerging regional power in the political and economic sector, African students will be granted scholarships to study in Brazilian higher education institutions, or at a recently inaugurated university in Africa, International Afro-Brazilian Lusophone University – Universidade Federal da Integração Luso-Afro-Brasileira (UNILAB). UNILAB is intended to become an integrated multi-campus institution with campuses in all the African member countries of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries.
June 15, 2013
Pan-African Accreditation Agency in the Works
Plans are under way at the African Union to establish a continental quality assurance and accreditation agency that will measure, compare and harmonize the performance of higher education institutions and facilitate professional mobility across the continent.
So far, 21 African countries have established higher education accreditation bodies. But according to Professor Jean-Pierre Ezin, commissioner for human resources, science and technology at the AUC, most accreditation bodies in Africa do not have dedicated units to monitor performance.
“We need a quality-rating mechanism that will be instrumental in ensuring that the performance of African higher education institutions can be compared against common criteria and enhances their global competitiveness,” Ezin told University World News.
According to an AUC concept paper, the proposed pan-African quality and accreditation body will have the power to enhance quality in all private, state and federal higher education institutions, including open and distance universities across the continent.
There are also plans to explore how the proposed accreditation agency could establish partnerships with the Association of African Universities, AfriQAN (the African Quality Assurance Network), and the African Council for Distance Education, all three of which have been involved in quality assurance in higher education.
June 15, 2013
President Forms Committee to Tackle Higher Education Problems
Malawi’s President Joyce Banda has constituted a special committee to investigate problems affecting the higher education sector and propose corrective measures. In her statement announcing the committee, Banda said she had met with the councils and managements of universities about student access to higher education.
“Together we looked at pertinent issues that affect our young people in universities of Malawi,” said the president. These included transportation, rising fees for parallel (full fee-charging) programs and university infrastructure – learning facilities, accommodation and student living allowances, which have been issues raised by student leaders.
In the statement, Banda said the World Bank and African Development Bank were discussing with the University of Malawi ways of supporting the institution with quality learning resources to complement what is available.
She also used the occasion to urge former university students to pay back student loans, so that local institutions could use the money to support access to university education for other young people.
In 2011, the government-run Public University Students Loan Trust was stopped from administering loans after it had struggled for more than a decade to enforce repayment. The task was handed over to the Malawi Savings Bank, which last year notified government that it would withdraw from the scheme because it was owed huge sums of money by defaulters.
May 11, 2013
Government Attempts to Combat Graduate Unemployment
Worried about the growing rate of graduate joblessness, the Nigerian government – in partnership with the private sector – is financing a scheme under which graduates will learn to eventually become employers. Some 850,000 graduates have reportedly already registered for training placements in reputable companies.
Called the Graduate Internship Scheme or GIS, and unanimously approved by the Federal Executive Council, it will be funded by a dedicated account called the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Program.
Peter Papka, GIS project director, said its aim was to post graduates to reputable firms and organizations, with a view to them learning skills and techniques required as potential managers and future employers of labor.
“The government pays for the project so there are no financial implications for these companies. Their role is to train the graduates as future captains of industries. At the end of their internship, the organizations are not bound to employ the retrained graduates,” he said.
According to the GIS Road Map brochure, about 500,000 graduates will benefit from the scheme before the end of 2013. Initially, about 1,000 beneficiaries would come from each state, and in the next phase, 100,000 per state.
June 15, 2013
15% Graduation Rate among Undergraduates
The graduation rate among undergraduate students in South Africa’s 23 public universities is 15 percent according to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s first annual statistical report, published this year, which looked at the “size and shape of post-school education and training in South Africa.”
Nicolene Murdoch, the executive director for teaching and quality at Monash South Africa, said the reasons for these low rates include financial constraints – where students enroll for courses but don’t have funding to see them through – lack of academic preparedness and students not getting enough support from their universities. Adding that the highest failure rates were in the math and science programs which covered medicine, science, technology and business studies. Other factors include: lack of education about career choices, accommodation shortage, poor teacher training and even hunger.
Murdoch said a healthy graduation rate would be 50 percent. According to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s 2010/11-2014/15 strategic plan, the graduation rate should reach 20 percent by next year.
June 15, 2013